National Economics University CLE Cinic in Hanoi to Develop a Small Business Clinic
by Tue Phuong Nguyen, BABSEACLE Volunteer Lawyer, Hanoi, Viet Nam

National Economics University (NEU) has been working with BABSEACLE as part of the network of CLE programs in Viet Nam for two years. The students have studied CLE philosophy, CLE methods, and how to establish and run their CLE program. This has created a strong foundation in the hearts and minds of everyone involved. Now, it’s time to grow.

As the name of the university implies, business law is one of the CLE group’s strengths. Therefore, they are developing a program to serve the poor and marginalized community in business registration and business management: helping people set up their own business as their livelihood. Helping the community in this way will also instill ethical responsibility and improve the professionalism of the students.

The new program is being supported by IBM. NEU signed a memorandum of under-standing (MOU) with IBM and BABSEACLE for cooperation in implementing the project. To prepare for this special work, 20 1st to 3rd year students already working in the clinic will take a 15-week course in basic lawyering skills like interviewing, questioning, researching, and counseling, as well as intensive lessons on Vietnamese business law and registration.

The law students are not the only ones to benefit from the experience of working on this project.  The Law Dean, senior and junior law lecturers, international experts coming to the clinic, the volunteer coordinator, volunteer lawyers from IBM, and BABSEACLE staff are all excited and whole-heartedly committed to working together to make this a successful project.

Everyone is working on developing the course with open communication about its content; reporting after each class and offering suggestions for improvement.  NEU, BABSEACLE and IBM will all be mentoring students, not only within the class but also by giving guidance for other work at the clinic.

The program is exciting for stakeholders, but it is also attracting attention from others. Representatives of the Ministry of Justice and lawyers from local law firms want to learn more about the program and are offering to assist. Wider relationships like these will provide more opportunities for students to learn about business law, the system, and the practice of law.

The new course is just the first step. As NEU’s clinic grows due to its business registration expertise, other areas of law will be developed as well. Meanwhile, students will be doing community teachings relating to e-commerce, business law, and labor law with the supervision of NEU law lecturers.  Enthusiasm is high among all those working on this vision: the NEU business law clinic will provide a better education at the same time it provides better access to justice for everyone.